Friday afternoon a couple days ago: it’s teetering on fall around here, and I enjoy watching the wind blow tree limbs and leaves sideways through the tall windows of my yoga studio. Colors are starting to change in Capitol Hill, but the weather is still undecided – fickle hot and cool, rain and shine. Lying on my back, at the end of class, I look up at the paint on the ceiling, rafters, joints, and walls. There I see about 10 shades of taupe and cream before I close my eyes. It’s all the same paint, but shadow and light create so many variations that my eyes pick up on without even trying.
Color is so beautiful, and so interesting too. Having had my share of physics classes, I amuse myself a moment by considering how color doesn’t exist in the physical realm without light. In the true absence of light, like in a vacuum (or relatively speaking, in the darkest part of night, in the unlit places on earth), color doesn’t exist! My thoughts revolve this idea once and ponder whether color objectively exists if my eyelids create that darkness. And without trying to answer the question, or laughing at myself, I turn it over once more: would color exist in the light if there were no eyes to witness it.
A vivid picture leapt to mind, and a smile along with it. I imagined all the electromagnetic spectrum in the cosmos, at a time before the dawn of time, before there were eyes to witness — a chaos of frequencies moving through space, just energy moving and bouncing in infinite directions. Seeming wave, seeming particle, without any one to detect or interpret.
Keep in mind I’m drifting into śavasana at this point, not spending too many calories worrying about this non-problem, but I did enjoy the train of thought.
Color is a visual perception of some of the EM frequencies, needing light as its stimulus: it only has meaning because of the eyes of animals! And somehow eyes have evolved from all this dust, and can detect beauty in the cacophony of EM radiation. Why? Without seeking to confirm*, my go-to guess is that eyes evolved to support life and survival, in conjunction with the meaning that our minds (or a reptile’s brain) interpret about what is seen. This is how our minds protect us instinctually.
I work with color with clients every day. The results are instantaneous and transformative, and here’s how it works. When people naturally and automatically assign a meaning to everything they experience, in order to sort danger from safety, and pleasure from pain, the meaning must then be attached in some way to that context. That’s what enables (or demands) our automatic responses in the future. That attachment happens in the subconscious, or “croc” mind every day; one way the mind achieves this is by using an internal version of the five senses in consistent ways according to the type of experience. You might think of it as “tagging” memory with different sounds, feels, and sights. The process is more fascinating and intricate though. Each of the five senses has decades of submodalities (for instance, the sense of touch can vary by pressure, temperature, speed, texture, location etc.), and this matrix of permutations is the tool of the mind in creating our automatic responses, and our sense of “knowing” anything. Intuition and feeling are also carved by the same knife. One of the quickest, gentlest, and most effective ways to change our experience, our perspective to a more useful one, and have more choice about our compulsive reactions to anything, is to employ the mind’s natural system for our own purposes. This is how I work transformatively with clients by using color, and all the other submodalities of our senses. By adjusting or tuning the “tags” which were applied to familiar experiences, we naturally and immediately change the emotional experience. It’s that simple.
∴ ∷ ∴
Saturday morning, I woke up and surfed the internet a little — not looking for anything specific, just following my curiosity and doing what I call listening online. Coincidentally I clicked on this video by Coleman Lowndes, published by Vox in May of this year (all rights reserved). I was struck in the first minute. Its subject is the method and motivation for colorizing historic black and white photos, but the impression it leaves on the viewer is just as powerful as the technology and the artists are interesting. I suggest you watch 1:15 if nothing more.
The bridge that color makes across generations is immediate and undeniable. What seemed to be a foreign time in one photo (name one), suddenly could be a modern day actor on a set simply wearing an outdated style of clothing:
“When you add the color, you start looking at the photograph in a slightly different way, and you start picking up on all these really interesting details you might not have noticed before. This change in perception is why these images feel like they’ve suddenly come to life…” – Jordan J Lloyd, Dynamichrome
These are simply the effects we are aware of at a conscious level. These immediate feelings of Relating that the color arouses translate to higher order awareness like Clarity, Connecting, and Understanding. Color affects not just our perception, but also what we understand, and how we feel about that. Imagine the profundity of color, and then multiply that by the many other submodalities of sense — all at work creating meaning for us automatically by our minds… It’s truly awe inspiring.
∷ ∴ ∷
When I visualized all the EM wave-particles in space, oblivious to time, the smallness of myself suddenly seemed obvious, and also reassuring. And the unimportance of my interpretations jumped out, instantaneously purifying what I want from my senses. In Jordan’s words: “[With the color restored] you no longer see history as a timeline — rather it’s a tapestry of all these really rich moments.” So if I can utilize my senses like the tool that they are, and they can serve my higher order desires like radiant joy, love, brilliance, I am certainly going to try.